Patricia Ortiz, a 31-year-old California woman, is suspected of killing her three young children and attempting suicide, according to local reports

Merced County Sheriff’s deputies reportedly found three children dead in a Le Grand apartment complex Wednesday, as well as a woman with “life-threatening injuries” that appeared to be self-inflicted. Emergency personnel rendered medical aid to the woman at the scene and transported her to a nearby hospital. 

On Thursday, the Sheriff’s Office identified Ortiz as the survivor, and determined that the three children killed — 8-year-old Anna Ortiz Lara, 5-year-old Matteo Ortiz Lara, and 3-year-old Alexa Ortiz Lara — were her own.  

Officials said the 31-year-old mom will be booked in a Merced County jail upon her release from the hospital. The case is reportedly under investigation as an attempted murder-suicide. 

Mom Allegedly Killed Children, Attempted Suicide

At around 2 p.m. on Wednesday, deputies were called to an apartment complex near Brice and Cook streets in Le Grand in California’s Central Valley to conduct a welfare check, reports indicate. 

An adult was reportedly standing outside the home and “screaming” for help when authorities arrived. 

Inside, police said they found three children already dead and a woman who appeared to have suffered serious, self-inflicted injuries. She was treated at the scene and checked into a local hospital, as police announced that they were investigating the matter as a botched murder-suicide. 

On Thursday, the victims and their alleged killer were identified as Patricia Ortiz and her three children, Anna, Matteo and Alexa. 

The precise cause of death for the three child victims was not released, nor were their mother’s injuries detailed in police accounts. 

A neighbor, speaking to the Merced Sun-Star on the condition of anonymity, said Ortiz’s husband was the one “screaming” for help when police arrived on the scene. 

Police believe Patricia Ortiz, killed her children and tried to kill herself at this Merced County, Calif. apartment complex Wednesday.
Police believe Patricia Ortiz killed her children and tried to kill herself at this Merced County, Calif. apartment complex Wednesday. Photo credit: Google Maps

“Help me, my kids,” she recalled him shouting. 

The neighbor said she rushed into the Ortizs’ apartment, where “others” inside asked her to call 911. She said she saw all three children dead in a bedroom, and that they appeared to have been deceased for “hours” by that time, though police have not corroborated her claim.

“They were cold and just gone. Their lips were already blue,” she told the newspaper. 

In the bathroom, she said, their mother was bleeding badly. 

“The husband was going crazy,” the neighbor said. “A gentleman was helping [Ortiz] while she was in the tub. She’d slit her wrists and was bleeding. A guy was helping her trying to make sure she was alive.”

She said that 911 dispatchers instructed her to perform first aid on the children. “We put the little boy down on the floor on his back and the guy proceeded to do CPR.”

The neighbor said that while Ortiz and her husband had a rocky marriage and were recently separated, she did not suspect the children were being abused before their deaths on Wednesday. 

Others in the apartment complex “actually insisted many times” that Ortiz get help after separating from her husband over the summer, she said. 

“They saw her distraught many times over the marriage,” the neighbor recalled. “I believe this is mental health. All her mental health. I really do.”

Patricia Ortiz, the California mom accused of killing her children, will be booked at the Merced County Jail after her release from the hospital.
Patricia Ortiz, the California mom accused of killing her children, will be booked at the Merced County Jail after her release from the hospital. Photo credit: Google Maps

Patricia Ortiz Charged with Murder

Patricia Ortiz is reportedly still recovering at the hospital. When she’s released, she’ll be booked in the county jail on three charges of murder, the Sheriff’s Office said. 

An investigation is ongoing, as the small community continues to reel from the news of the grisly crime. 

“Le Grand is a very small town, it’s a very tight-knit town,” said Sheriff’s Deputy Daryl Allen. “I can tell you that from living here for a long time. This whole town — I’m going to call it a family — everybody in this town knows everybody. So when something like this happens it affects everybody.”

Ana, Matteo and Alexa Ortiz Lara were found dead Wednesday. Their mom, Patricia Ortiz, is charged with their murder.
Ana, Matteo and Alexa Ortiz Lara were found dead Wednesday. Their mom, Patricia Ortiz, is charged with their murder. Photo credit: GoFundMe

Relatives of the Ortiz Lara children set up a GoFundMe on Thursday to assist in funeral costs. Within hours, thousands of dollars in donations had been pledged. 

“Heaven has gained three beautiful angels,” the family members wrote. 

“There is no way to express the pain of the loss of these three beautiful children. Ana Daniela, Matteo and Alexa were happy, full of life and loved by all who knew them.”